• Oct 6th 2009 at 9:58AM
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No one can dispute the importance of tires on dry, wet or snowy pavement, but some buyers tend to pick their rubber based on price alone. For the more quality-minded customer, Consumer Reports conducts an annual tire test and this year's battle of the road rubber was the biggest ever with 69 models duking it out for supremacy. CR's tire engineers rated models based on several categories, including dry and wet braking, handling, hydroplaning resistance, snow traction, ice braking, ride comfort, noise, rolling resistance, and tread life. CR also claims that the new ratings, available in the November edition of the magazine, gives consumers the ability to compare individual performance characteristics like grip and tread life within a specific category.

The biggest winner this year was the Michelin Man, with the puffy white tire boss scoring top scores in all four categories. The Michelin HydroEdge was the top model among S- and T-rated all-season tires, the Michelin Primacy MXV4 scored top marks for H-rated tires and Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S won in the V-rated all-season radial category. The Michelin X-Ice XI 2 topped CR's ratings for winter tires for passenger cars.

While Michelin won big, the top-notch radials were also among the highest priced in many categories. Other stand-out performers costing less include the Hankook Optimo H727, Nokian WR G2, and Dunlop Signature in the all season H and V speed rating category. The General Altimax Arctic took second place for winter tires.

The November edition of Consumer Reports hits newsstands today, and the information is available to subscribers on ConsumerReports.org. Hit the jump to review CR's info-intensive press release.

[Source: Consumer Reports]


CR names several good tires that scored slightly below that cost significantly less

YONKERS, NY - Consumer Reports rated four Michelin tires the top spots in all-season (S and T speed ratings) and performance all-season tires (H and V speed ratings), and Winter categories in the magazine's November issue. Each of the four Michelin models received an "Excellent" rating.
The Michelin tires bested tests of 69 models-the largest group ever tested by Consumer Reports. That includes all-season and winter tires that fit most sedans, wagons, minivans, and some car-based SUVs. Prices for the Michelin models ranged from $106 to $126 for a size (P)215/60R16 to fit CR's two Chevrolet Malibu test cars. CR's engineers expect other sizes of the same tire models to provide similar performance.

The Michelin HydroEdge was the top scoring model among S- and T-rated all-season tires, and the Michelin Primacy MXV4 and Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S took top honors among H- and V-rated all-seasons, respectively. The Michelin X-Ice XI 2 topped CR's ratings for winter tires for passenger cars.

CR's tire engineers rated models based on a variety of categories including dry and wet braking, handling, hydroplaning resistance, snow traction, ice braking, ride comfort, noise, rolling resistance, and tread life. Despite top scores, the Michelin models aren't necessarily the best in every area. For example, the HydroEdge had only fair snow traction, so drivers who live in snowy areas might want to consider another high-scoring tire. The Michelin models are also among the most expensive tires CR tested, but drivers don't have to pay top dollar to get good performance.

Other high scoring all season tires with well rounded all weather performance include the Hankook Optimo H727, Nokian WR G2, Dunlop Signature in the all season and H and V speed rated all season categories, respectively. In the winter category, the General Altimax Arctic was a runner-up to the Michelin X-Ice XI 2.

Full tests and ratings of the tires appear in the November issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale October 6. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

Consumer Reports' testers put tires through a number of objective and subjective tests in the most comprehensive tire-test program of any American magazine or Web site. Testers measure braking and lateral grip on dry and wet surfaces, handling in CR's emergency avoidance maneuver, and hydroplaning resistance, which measures how well a tire maintains contact with the road in standing water. CR rents a local skating rink to test braking on ice and has outside labs evaluate tread life and rolling resistance. To ensure consistency, testers buy each tire model in the same size and mount them on the same test cars.

This month, CR's tire ratings have changed from previous tests. Starting with these tests, CR's ratings are now designed so that readers can compare the individual performance of one type of tire with another. For example, you can compare the ratings of all-season and winter tires to see how much dry and wet grip you give up with winter tires in return for better snow and ice traction. The overall score, however, is still relative to each tire category. Because tread life can influence driving safety, a tread-life rating is included in each tire's overall score.
Finding the right tire

Investing in better tires can give you a wider margin of safety when driving. A little extra grip, for example, can mean the difference between an accident and a close call. There are a lot of tire choices, and you can't tell by looking at them which ones will perform better. When you buy replacement tires, CR recommends sticking with the same size and speed rating of your car's original tires. You can find the specifications listed on a placard usually located inside the driver's doorjamb.
When shopping, note if a tire model has asymmetrical or directional tread; those tires must be mounted in a specific way. Asymmetrical tires have different inner and outer tread, so they must be mounted with the correct side facing out. The tread pattern on directional tires requires that they be mounted so the tire rotates in the direction shown on the sidewall. In addition, directional tires can't be switched from one side of the car to the other during tire rotations because this would cause them to turn the wrong way and might reduce traction.
Don't buy used tires, because you don't know how they've been treated. If they've been overloaded, underinflated, or overheated, there could be internal damage that won't be visible.

Choose the right tire type for your car
· All-season Best for year-round traction,long tread wear, and a comfortable ride. But they usually lack the precise handling and cornering grip of performance all-season tires. Speed ratings None, S, T. Tread-wear warranties 40,000to 100,000 miles. Typical wheel sizes 13 to 16 inches.
· Performance all-season Best for improved handling and cornering grip, compared with standard all-season tires,without giving up too much comfort and wear.But many have lower tread wear warranties. Speed ratings H, V. Tread-wear warranties 40,000 to 70,000 miles. Typical wheel sizes 15 to 18 inches.
· Ultra-high-performance Best for maximum wet and dry grip and handling. But they usually provide less tread life than standard and performance all-season models. Summer versions aren't made for snow or ice. Speed ratings W, Y, Z. Tread-wear warranties None for most. Typical wheel sizes 16 to 20 inches.
· Winter Best for those who need maximum traction on ice and snow, particularly where winters are severe. But fast tread wear and less wet and dry traction limit them to winter use only. Speed ratings Q, R, S, T, H, V. Tread-wear warranties None. Typical wheel sizes 13 to 18 inches.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit www.ConsumerReports.org.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm actually looking forward to the Toyo Observe G-02 Plus - ground walnut shells for improved traction (http://toyotires.com/tire/pattern/observe-g-02-plus).
      • 5 Years Ago
      My 2006 Sonata just went from Michelin MXV4 Energy tires to Kumho KH16.

      The Michelin had better wet traction, but that feature was the first thing to fade too the moment those Michelins hit 40K miles. It was like driving on bald tires there at the end, and the tread still looked and measure fine.

      The Kumhos are new but handling great so far. Just took on the worst rains in more than a hundred years without any issue at all. If and when the time comes to replace them, the cost is a LOT less than anything Michelin has. The Michelins might be better tires in CU's eyes, but not better enough to merit the premium imo.

      • 5 Years Ago
      How many Autoblog readers actually use tires in any of these categories?

      Somehow I'm not surprised they didn't test either high-performance all-season tires or ultra-high-performance summer tires.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very few climates? They're the best choice anywhere that doesn't see more than a few days of snow a year or anywhere that might see a bit more but you have a truck or something in addition to your primary car that you can drive for those couple weeks. That's the entire west coast, the southwest, Texas, Florida, and most of the rest of the south. CR basically didn't bother to cover the tires which are most appropriate for about a third of the population of the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Also have Pilot Exaltos on my Acura RSX.

        Performance tires are only good for a very few climates in North America. I think All Season tires are probably the norm not only in the population but on Autoblog. Most people that drive a car to its limits knows its important to plan for all situations. Plan for the least amount of traction you'll have. That way you'll live again to enjoy driving another day!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have Michelin Pilot Exaltos on my Taurus. Excellent tires!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Other stand-out performers costing less include the Hankook Optimo H727, Nokian WR G2....."

      Actually, the Nokian tires were the most expensive all-season tires they tested. Please fix that.

      But the Hankook H727's are extremely impressive all-season tires -- arguably the best year-round tire in areas that also get ice and snow. I've heard nothing but good things about them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      From what I've discovered, they drive around a dry and wet course to see which feels better in their other tests but in this test they are getting the hard numbers too, but the mix of objective and subjective makes this test totally worthless to me because I don't agree with CR on most things, nearly all things really.. I doubt that would be the same for a set of tires.
        • 5 Years Ago
        By that logic, you'll want to buy CR's lowest rated tires. So here is what you want to get:

        All-Season: Firestone FR710
        Performance All-Season (H speed rated): Fuzion HRi
        Performance All-Season (V speed rated): Fuzion VRi
        Winter: Hankook Icebear W300

        Good luck with them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's not what I meant at all, and you wouldn't know what I meant anyway.

        "CR's tire engineers rated models based on a variety of categories - Despite top scores, the Michelin models aren't necessarily the best in every area and they are also among the most expensive tires CR tested, but drivers don't have to pay top dollar to get good performance."

        They don't even publish the specifics of why a tire is ranked like it is because they don't give out that information. Tirerack does. Or why the same tire is an 80 in the Performance All-seasons section and an 85 in the High Performance section with the same rankings. CR should stick to reviewing ovens and mixers.

        Highs / Exceptional dry and wet stops.

        Lows / Short tread life and fair winter grip.

        How is that enough information for ANY tire? There is a lot missing here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Michelin X-Ice XI2 tires are indeed awesome. I have 4 on my FWD '03 Passat Wagon, and between the traction control and the abs, I have a car that is utterly forgiving to drive in the snow. I've been able to things with these tires that would be insane on even the best all seasons.

      The other three seasons the car wears Goodyear Triple Treds, currently on the second set. The first set lasted 70,000+ miles and had 4/32 tread left, so the treadlife expectancy of 80k is pretty much dead on. At 4/32, the tires had lost their wet traction efficacy, but they were still better than the Michelin MXV-4 tires the car came with at 40,000 in wet conditions. The MXV-4s hydroplaned regularly in the rain, except when brand new. I did not like the Triple-Treds in snow, even when new, but they were no better or worse than any other all season.

      I buy my tires for the worst of traction conditions, not the best. So, 3/4 of the year I have all-seasons, and 1/4 of the year she wears snows. I'd much rather take my car than my wife's 4WD Honda Pilot out on a snowy day- although now that I got rid of the Goodyear Integrity tires and replaced them with General Grabber HTS (which are supposedly awesome all-seasons in the snow) that might change.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I used Michelin tires only once. they were terrible. I'll never buy another set again. I only use Multi-Mile brand tires. They may be inexpensive, but they provide better ride and wear than most of the more popular name-brands.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Bizarre post, but y'know I had some Multi-Mile brand tires on my 83 Civic back when I was in college, and I'll be darned if they didn't last me almost 100k miles. Decent in snow too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports is about as reliable as Motor Trend when it comes to objectivity. Whoever gives them the biggest check... voila!! We have a winner. If you want to know the truth about tires, check out the web site for Tire Rack. http://www.tirerack.com/ They have side by comparisons of just about any tire your little heart desires.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And odd claim about CR getting checks, since they don't have any advertising. Are you suggesting they outright take bribery payments for good ratings, and if so, what is your source of information?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just bought a 2010 Camry XLE with Bridgestone Turanza "turds" tires. The Turanza tires are horrible according to many reviews I read, and I did not want my family driving this winter in those Bridgestone tires. The day I drove the care home from the Toyota dealer I drove to a tire dealer and upgraded the tires on the Camry XLE to Michelin Primacy MXV. I am very happy with that decision, because the Michelin Primacy MXVs have received many rave reviews.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When I want to see ratings about tires I go to the Tire Rack on the web. Those ratings are by people who actually drove on them in every day use. You can filter the reviews for only those who drive your make and model. That's important because a tire that rides well on one model car may not ride well on another.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That would probably keep you from buying an awful tire. But if I drive tire A and post that it seems to be really good, I say that without knowing that tires B, C, and D might be even better. And even if I did drive the car with all those different tires on it, am I going to be able to tell which one stops 5 feet shorter from 60 mph, or has 0.03 better lateral grip on the skidpad, or is a few decibels quieter on the highway? No. Unless I had autocross times with all the different tires, which would tell you a lot about their performance.

        Lab testing is going to be able to tell you things that the average driver isn't going to be able to judge by the seat of their pants.
        • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've always used Michelin's on my cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Funny over the years I've had Michelin MXV4 tires on a couple of cars and couldn't wait for them to wear out, so I could put something else on. In the dry they were fine but the wet weather performance, particularly when accelerating sucked. Wheel spin anyone?
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